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April 10th, 2007
A new, more efficient way to explore outer space
The space elevator Laine and his associates at LiftPort envision is not some Tower of Babel, no behemoth structure requiring massive amounts of material to construct from the ground up. Rather, Laine likened the idea to a ribbon that would only be 15 feet wide and would essentially be a gigantic tether for the rockets needed to begin the project.
The space elevator would begin as a 62,000 mile "ribbon" made of carbon nanotubes, and would be brought into space by four rockets. It is predicted to take three months for the ribbon to drop from space to Earth, where it would be attached to a 600 feet by 900 feet ship in the Pacific near the equator. Initially, the ribbon would be made up of just one small strand of carbon nanotubes, which, though currently still in the laboratory phase, are among the strongest of materials in the world. A series of other ribbons would then be sent up the original strand until the width of 15 feet was obtained.
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